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Help and advice for Edinburgh

If you have found a problem on this page then please report it on the following form. We will then do our best to fix it. If you are wanting advice then the best place to ask is on the area's specific email lists. All the information that we have is in the web pages, so please do not ask us to supply something that is not there. We are not able to offer a research service.

If you wish to report a problem, or contribute information, then do use the following form to tell us about it. We have a number of people each maintaining different sections of the web site, so it is important to submit information via a link on the relevant page otherwise it is likely to go to the wrong person and may not be acted upon.


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"The metropolis of Scotland and county town of Midlothian, is situated 2 miles South of the Firth of Forth. The city is built on ridges of east and westward extension of varying height, and on the valleys between or the slopes beyond. The hills are partly overlapped by, and partly extend beyond, the city; they occupy an area within a circuit of about 6 miles; and, at their northern margin, about 2 miles from the Firth, are bounded by a slightly inclined plain, which extends from them to the shore. These hills consist mainly of erupted rocks, thrown up from what was once a flat surface by a series of upheavals, and afterwards much modified by denudation and other causes. Edinburgh from whatever point the eye regards it, presents a variety of scenic groupings of such singular effect as is met with in no other city of the world."

(Extract from Ordinance Gazetteer of Scotland 1885)


Archives and Libraries

The Writers' Museum Situated in Lady Stair's House, built in 1622, the Museum is dedicated to the lives and work of Scotland's great literary figures, in particular Robert Burns (1759-1796), Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).

The Writers' Museum
Lady Stair's Close
Royal Mile

The Museum of Childhood Described as 'the noisiest museum in the world' it is a treasure house, crammed full of objects telling of childhood, past and present.

Museum of Childhood
42 High Street
Royal Mile

The Brass Rubbing Centre occupies Trinity Apse, the only surviving fragment of the Gothic Trinity College Church, founded about 1460 by Queen Mary of Gueldres, wife of James II of Scotland.

In the Centre, you will find a fascinating collection of replicas moulded from ancient Pictish stones, rare Scottish brasses and medieval church brasses.

The Brass Rubbing Centre
Trinity Apse
Chalmers Close
Royal Mile

The People's Story Housed in the late 16th century Canongate Tolbooth, opposite Huntly House, 'The People's Story' is a museum with a difference. It uses oral history, reminiscence, and written sources to tell the story of the lives, work and leisure of the ordinary people of Edinburgh from the late 18th century to the present day.

The museum is filled with the sounds, sights and smells of the past - a prison cell, town crier, reform parade, cooper's workshop, fishwife, servant at work, dressmaker, 1940s kitchen, a wash-house, pub and tea-room. These reconstructions are complemented by displays of photographs, everyday objects and rare artifacts, such as trade union banners and friendly society regalia.

The People's Story
Canongate Tolbooth
163 Canongate
Royal Mile

Huntly House Museum is home to important collections relating to the history of Edinburgh, from prehistoric times to the present day. One of the museum's great treasures is the National Covenant, signed by Scotland's presbyterian leadership in 1638, while the collections of Scottish pottery and items relating to Field Marchal Earl Haig are of national importance. Edinburgh silver and glass, and a colourful collection of shop signs are also featured.

The oldest part of Huntly House, which faces on to the Canongate, dates from the 16th century. It was extended in the 17th and 18th centuries, and has been home to a wide variety of owners and tenants, ranging from aristocrats to merchants and working people. By 1871, the house had been sub-divided to accommodate 250 people.

Huntly House Museum
142 Canongate
Royal Mile



"The Handbook to Edinburgh" published by The Mercat Press at James Thin, 53-59 South Bridge, Edinburgh. First published in 1981 with a second revised edition in 1991. ISBN 0901824984. A definitive guide to Edinburgh, telling of places of interest and what to look for. Also has many coloured illustrations.

"Portrait of Edinburgh" by Ian Nimmo. Published by Robert Hale & Co, London in 1969. The story of Edinburgh and its people, its old town and new town, its culture and its ceremony. With 23 black and white photographs.

"Ruins and Remains, Edinburgh's Neglected Heritage, A Commentary on Edinburgh's Graveyards and Cemeteries" by Anne Boyle, Colin Dickson, Alisdair McEwan, Colin McLean. Printed by University of Edinburgh, Old College. ISBN 0-907692-81-8. Describes the development of graveyards and cemeteries in Edinburgh. Describes some of the headstones also has some black and white photographs.

"Edinburgh in the '45, Bonnie Prince Charlie at Holyrood" by John Sibbald Gibson was published by The Saltire Society, 9 Fountain Close High Street, Edinburgh in 1995. ISBN 0 85411 067 4. The book is about the events of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion in Edinburgh.

"Close Encounters in the Royal Mile" by Alastair M R Hardie was published by John Donald Publishers Limited, 138 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh EH3 5AA in 1995. ISBN 0-85976-414-1. The book gives a historical background to the closes & wynds in the Royal Mile, it also gives previous obsolete names for some of the closes.



There are more than 30 cemeteries identified in this place. Please click here for a complete list.


There are more than 30 churches identified in this place. Please click here for a complete list.

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Edinburgh area or see them printed on a map.


Church History

"The various kirks which compose St Giles's had all different characters in former times. The High Kirk had a sort of dignified aristocratic character, approaching somewhat to prelacy, and was frequented only by sound church-and-state men, who did not care so much for the sermon, as for the gratification of sitting in the same place with his majesty's Lords of Council and session, and the magistrates of Edinburgh, and who desired to be thought men of sufficient liberality and taste to appreciate the prelictions of Blair. The Old Kirk, in the centre of the whole, was frequented by people who wished to have a sermon of good divinity, about three-quarters of an hour long, and who did not care for the darkness or dreariness of their temple. The Tolbooth Kirk was the peculiar resort of a set of rigid Calvanists from the Lawnmarket and the head of the Bow, termed the Towbuith-Whigs, who loved nothing but extempore evangelical sermons, and who would have considered it sufficient to bring the house down about their ears if the precentor had ceased, for one verse, the old hillside fashion of reciting the lines of the pslam before singing them."

From 'Traditions of Edinburgh', New Edition 1868 by Robert Chambers.


Church Records

The parish church has records for birth dating from 1595 and for marriages from 1595. These are held in the General Register Office of Scotland in Edinburgh and copies on microfilm may be consulted in the Edinburgh Room, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh and also in LDS Family History Centres around the world.

The Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directories, published annually, include a listing of current places of worship, and the minister/priest/etc. An extract of the 1901 directory is available.


Description and Travel

The Edinburgh Castle website provides history, pictures and information about this famous landmark.

You can see pictures of Edinburgh which are provided by:



The transcription of the section for Edinburgh from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.

Ask for a calculation of the distance from Edinburgh to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.



Edinburgh's old town was made up of many closes (narrow lanes) which ran off the High Street or Royal Mile as it is also called. In these closes were shops, taverns and housing. One of the most famous is Mary King's Close which was sealed up after the plague and which has been opened up recently. This close is said to be haunted.


Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

A good overview of the provisions of poor relief in Edinburgh can be found on This includes details of the inmates at the time of the 1881 census.

Edinburgh workhouses exisited in Craigleith, Craiglockart and St Cuthberts.

The National Records of Scotland include plans of Craigleith, Craiglockart and St Cuthberts poor houses, under references RHP30841, RHP30842, RHP30843, and RHP30570-1.

The basic principle of poor relief in Scotland was that it was supplied by your own parish (place of birth, or residence for greater than 5 years), and, was only available to those unable to work. The "able-bodied" poor were excluded, until 1918. For this reason, the usual term in Scotland is "poorhouse" not "workhouse". In many cases, a group, or "combination" of parishes worked together to provide a poorhouse.